There’s a nice Q&A with Former Assistant Education Secretary Diane Ravitch over on Ohio’s NPR StateImpact website.  Ravitch was in Cleveland discussing school reform last week when she sat down for the interview.  Ravitch used to be a major proponent of charter schools before personally discovering that they did not work in practice.  Since then she has become an outspoken critic of these attacks on the public education system.  As a said, it’s a nice piece and I recommend following Diane Ravitch’s work if you don’t do so already.

But at the end of the interview there was something disturbing.  Like most online media the StateImpact website has a place for comments.  And like most message boards about controversial topics this one picked up a troll.  Well, sort of.  In my experience, comment trolls don’t provide their name (like on our site).  On the Diane Ravitch interview, however, the troll not only left his name, but he proudly signed it.

Bill Sims, Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools

Here’s what the President and CEO of the Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools had to say (points for creativity):

Diane Ravitch: “Well the biggest problem facing Ohio is that in your big 8 districts you’ve got tremendous poverty and the single biggest cause of low academic performance is poverty, and if you do nothing about poverty you’re not going to change the performance levels.
Bill Sims: “Interesting, Diane, this is exactly where charter schools have been confined to, by law, in Ohio. And you say that “you’re not going to change the performance levels” because of the poverty levels in these areas. Bunk. Yes, charters in Ohio have this burden of locale but guess what, in terms of yearly student gains, charters within these big 8 district locales have outperformed their district counterparts for the past four years.”
Diane Ravitch: “I discovered either that they (charters) didn’t work or that they didn’t make any difference.”
Bill Sims: “Hooey. Ohio has proven that charters do make a difference, taking children who have failed in their district schools, grade levels behind, and realizing improved academic performance, often in smaller, safer, more personalized environments. And these alternative environments can be niche schools that are better fits for kids than generic classrooms. Sweeping generalizations, Diane, are not befitting educational gurus who theoretically base their conclusions on facts, not allowing their opinions to become facts. What you say about Ohio charters is simply not true.

–Bill Sims
Ohio Alliance for Public Charter Schools


Why would the president and CEO of a statewide charter school organization fib on the data? Ohio’s charter school performance rankings are easily fact-checked and have been written about extensively in our state. Few people dispute that our large urban 8 districts not only struggle with poverty, but also need to increase the ability of students to score higher on the state’s standardized tests. And even Battelle for Kids, the non-profit entity credited with bringing value-added data to Ohio, readily distributes graphs that demonstrate the direct correlation between poverty and Performance Index scores in Ohio.

But the claim that “charters within these big 8 district locales have outperformed their district counterparts for the past four years” is ludicrous. A look at value-added scores by district (and charters within those districts) reveals that 76 of the charter don’t even report value-added scores because the results are limited to tested grades. And while some charters DO have good value-added scores, a ranking that includes the Big 8 districts and all of their charter schools places the Cincinnati City School district with the 4th-highest value-added score overall, higher than 162 of the 165 charter schools with scores in these districts that actually report scores.

As for the overall Performance Index rankings, it is again disingenuous to say that charters are outperforming their district counterparts. A few charters exhibit high test scores, but the overall district scores still rank higher in 6 out of the Big 8 districts. Here are the average Performance Index Scores for charters in the corresponding county of the Big 8 districts:

Cuyahoga County Charters – 80.0
Cleveland Municipal – 75.7

Franklin County Charters – 77.2
Columbus City – 81.6

Hamilton County Charters – 73.3
Cincinnati City – 87.3

Lucas County Charters – 78.6
Toledo City – 83.1

Mahoning County Charters – 69.1
Youngstown City – 73.7

Montgomery County Charters – 76.8
Dayton City – 75.9

Stark County Charters – 66.1
Canton City – 84.0

Summit County Charters – 75.7
Akron City – 84.5

When digging deeper into these numbers, the largest gap in scores, in Cleveland, can be found to be a result of a few higher-performing charters pulling up the average to compensate for a large number of very low performing charters.  If we average these scores across all charters and districts results we obtain a higher average PI score for the Big 8 than for the collective charters.

But perhaps looking at student test scores isn’t the best indicator of performance. Maybe we should be looking at the bigger picture our school systems. After all, a large number of those charter schools that don’t have value-added scores exist as “dropout recovery” schools whose sole purpose is to help students graduate. So how are these laser-focused charters performing compared to the large urban districts?

Charter schools – 45.1% graduation rate
Big 8 Urban districts – 77.6% graduation rate

Those numbers are facts.

That’s not what anyone should call “outperforming” in my opinion.

It seems Bill Sims, President and CEO of the Ohio Alliance of Public Charter Schools, is one who has failed to follow his own advice and allowed his opinions to become his facts.

  • Anastasjoy

    What you said was pretty much what I guessed about Cleveland even before I read it. When I hear people talking about great charter schools here, they always talk about the same 3 or 4 schools. Almost all the others are garbage. And the stellar schools in Cleveland are Cleveland Public Schools magnet schools like John Hay and the School of the Arts.

  • Anonymous

    John, did you miss this paragraph in the post?

    “But the claim that “charters within these big 8 district locales have outperformed their district counterparts for the past four years” is ludicrous. A look at value-added scores by district (and charters within those districts) reveals that 76 of the charter don’t even report value-added scores because the results are limited to tested grades. And while some charters DO have good value-added scores, a ranking that includes the Big 8 districts and all of their charter schools places the Cincinnati City School district with the 4th-highest value-added score overall, higher than 162 of the 165 charter schools with scores in these districts that actually report scores.”
    John, if you choose to actually read the post, you’ll notice that I didn’t call Sims a liar.

  • Lacklandgd

    Hey Bill…seems Greg has already “reviewed the data”….why in the world would he want to meet with you privately?  And why wouldn’t you want to “shout in cyberspace” that charters are indeed the best thing to happen in educational reform?

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Bill.  I’m not shouting.  I haven’t been.  In fact, there’s not a single exclamation point in my entire post.  And thanks to the Ohio Department of Education, the data is readily available for all to review in a variety of ways.  The fact is, regardless of how you want to spin the numbers, you can’t back up your claim that charters are outperforming their urban counterparts.
    I think your best course of action would be to publish the four-year trend data that you had in mind when you made your claim.  Then post the link to that data here for everyone to review.  That’s a much more transparent process than you and me sitting behind a closed door poring over spreadsheets.  I know that our readers would gobble up any report that would show how charter schools are successfully utilizing the state funds they are receiving above and beyond their local school districts.  We’re tired of reading the stories about charters being closed for mismanaging funds, billing for students who never attended, and the refusal to engage in financial transparency in the face of legal challenges.  Management companies like White Hat, Altair, and K12 have allowed the focus on charter schools to shift to these companies’ profiteering at the expense of taxpayers.

    I can assure you we would all like to see some factual that shows how the 300+ Ohio charters are NOT draining money from public districts and NOT disrupting the lives of vulnerable children and desperate parents.

    Thanks again, Bill.  I look forward to reviewing your report and sharing it with our readers.


  • You go Greg as a teacher you are preaching to the choir. I do not know how many times a parent (usually one who takes little to no responsibility in their child’s education and puts all on the teacher) takes a child and sends them to a charter school because they say they will do better by that child. We laugh because we know they will be back. They usually are and then the child is farther behind then when they left. I hate getting these students back. Now I have twice the work. Then there are the students who were not at our school but come to us from charters. My experience is they are always behind. Never where they should be. Parents complain about class size and unruliness in the room. But with these statistics there is proof in the pudding. Charters are there only to make that profit not to benefit the students.

  • j_cogan

    this is really a non issue. do people not understand that poverty and parental involvement is strongly related to student achievement? If any of the charters do in fact post better scores, which I have not seen, then it would be because the parents who pay attention and care about their children’s educations have taken them out of public school (whose budgets have been savaged) and made the decision to put them into the charter school. this level of caring and involvement would show that these parents value education and work to help their children. so they will usually do better in school and on these standardized tests. it does not show that charter school teachers or their curriculum are any better. it just shows what population of children are at that school. anyone that knows anything about statistics and public school standardized testing knows that these tests were never made to prove teacher ability. they have only been used politically to do that. politicians don’t care about facts or science or statistics. they ONLY care about perception.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you’re not holding your breath.

  • Tpiteo65

    dont take him up on it Greg.  The repubs/charter school reps.  are like the pods in the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” .  They will try to suck your brain out so that you cant think on your own, 

  • Mdroesch

     Excellent post! Take a cross section of private schools, and I’ll bet you find the homes are also stable, two parent homes. I strongly believe student achievement is the teacher’s ability, the school environment, and the home life. To not look at all three is negligent at best. The vast majority of public school teachers are competent. However, a student will struggle learning if his other needs are not met. Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs shows that.

  • Anonymous

    1. not disputable or deniable; uncontestable. indisputable evidence.
    2. unquestionably real, valid, or the like.

    1.  incontrovertible, incontestable, undeniable, unquestionable;evident, apparent, obvious, certain. 

    The opening line from an article is considered indisputable to you?  Read the fine print in the data table at the link to understand the limitations of the chart:
    “*If a student passes the state-standardized test for his/her grade, he/she is considered on-grade level.”

    While every public district reports such scores because they have students in all tested grades, over 16% of Ohio’s charters do not have students in the tested grades and are therefore not having their performance evaluated through ODE’s limited measures that the StateImpact has displayed on their site.  Are these non-reported schools doing better?  Or worse?  How would anyone know?

    That’s not what I call indisputable, Connie.

  • Anonymous

    Simple use of synonyms, Connie.

    Sims said, “What you say…is simply not true.”

    “What you say…is simply a lie.”
    “You…are a liar.”

  • Anonymous

    All the Breakthrough Schools: ePrep, Citizens Academy, and The Intergenerational School  are rated Excellent with Distinction.  All the Constellation schools are highly rated (outperform district schools), the brand new Northeast Ohio Preparatory Academy, Washington Park, Noble Academy of Cleveland and the Horizon Science Schools.  (more than 3-4). Want me to list the Cleveland Municipal schools that have been rated Academic Emergency and the number of years they have been in that status?

  • Anonymous

    Funny that you would compare graduation rates of traditional district schools to DROPOUT recovery schools.  Dropout recovery schools, if the name doesn’t already clue you in, is for kids who have NOT attended school consistently through the four years of high school.  The graduation rate is based on FOUR year completion.  OF COURSE the graduation rate is not as high. Duh.

  • clambake

    I can’t recommend her book highly enough. If you haven’t read it yet get to a library and check it out:

    It is refreshing to hear a public figure say “I was wrong”, by the way.

  • Anonymous

    So are those schools doing better or worse?

  • Anonymous

    Your information is inaccurate, even with your attempt to cherry-pick schools.  A quick glance at the ODE school rankings reveals your errors.  While some of the schools you identified are high-performing, you have exaggerated.


    As for Constellation, one is in Academic Watch and six are in Continuous Improvement.  Those rankings, when applied to school districts, are hardly considered to be in the category of “highly-rated.”

    List the Cleveland schools if you want, but then also list the 12 charters in Academic Emergency and the 8 Cleveland Municipal schools rated Excellent or higher.  Based on the standardized test results of students (that’s a debate for another day).

    And as you can see in my post above, I hardly tried to sugarcoat the test scores of Cleveland’s students, and if you look at my past posts I didn’t do so then.  But again, Sims didn’t claim that some of the charters are equal or better to some of the public district schools.  He said the charters have outperformed their counterparts in the Big 8 urbans for the past four years.  Cleveland has the largest gap in PI scores and even the overall look at data calls into question whether one actually outperformed the other.  If we were to start digging into the other districts and charters it would reveal even more data that disputes Sims’ statements.  Were we to factor in all of the charters that have closed – not shut down, but went out of business – we’d be considering additional schools with low rankings in this mix for both categories.

  • Anonymous

    Wells Academy in Steubenville, the highest ranked elementary school in Ohio and site of Kasich’s State of the State speech this week, reports an extremely stable student population with 96.3% of students enrolled for more than a full academic year. 

  • Spot on!

  • Jwizzler

     Bill, as somebody who worked for a charter school, wrote several letters to your group about what we were doing wrong, and never received a response, I have to say that charter schools are really hurting these kids. It’s a shame that charter schools are destroying the chances of these kids at having a future. Sure, charter schools make lobbyists like you rich, but they do nothing for the kids.

  • Whitey63

    You have stated
    that Mr. Sims is a liar. You then used your own faulty logic to substitute
    something being “not true” as being a lie. 
    You say that this was a “simple use of synonyms.”


    I am guessing you
    are not an English teacher.  I also
    imagine you never took logic.  Synonyms
    are words that have the same or nearly the same meaning. See Merriam-Webster
    online dictionary if you need help finding a dictionary.

    You wrote:

    Sims said, “What you say…is simply not true.”


    And then you
    translated it like this:

    “What you say…is simply a lie.”
    “You…are a liar.”


    “Not true” does not necessarily mean that something is a lie,
    nor does it mean that someone who speaks something untrue is a “liar.”  A lie is, by definition, “not true,” but not
    all things that are “not true” are lies. 
    If you ask a five-year old what 7 times 8 is, and he replied 46, would
    you say he was lying?  Or would he
    perhaps just be wrong?   How would we know if he was lying? If your
    definition of lying is simply stating something that is untrue, then we have
    students lying in school all the time. 
    And we as adults are lying all the time, too, especially when people ask
    us how we’re doing. 


    Your leap from “not true” to “a lie” is a failure to
    understand the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions.  To be a lie, something has to be not
    true.  Being not true is a necessary condition
    for being a lie.  But being not true is
    not a sufficient component for being a lie. 
    There are statements made all the time that are not true but that are
    not lies.


    A lie, as defined in The Free Dictionary, includes a mens
    rea component.  Far more than being
    something that is “untrue,” it is something that is untrue that is
    “deliberately presented as being true” or that is “meant to deceive or give a
    wrong impression.”


    Mr. Sims’ blog post says, “What you say about Ohio
    charters is simply not true.”


    This does not accuse Diane Ravitch of being a liar. It
    addresses the fact that she is speaking generally about all charters without
    specifically focusing on Ohio.  In fact,
    look back at the question and answer from the State Impact interview:

    Q: Early on in your career you were a pretty
    strong supporter of school choice, charter schools, school vouchers and you
    have since changed your mind. What made you change your mind?

    A: Well it’s true, I supported testing,
    accountability, choice, charters, all of those things. But I realized in theory
    they all sounded great, in reality I discovered either that they didn’t work or
    that they didn’t make any difference. What we’re doing in this country is
    tearing apart public education and bringing in lots of entrepreneurial people
    to make money off education but we’re not providing a better education. In fact
    I’ve concluded and it’s reconfirmed every day, we’re making education worse.

    Ms. Ravitch is not just speaking generally about charters—she
    is speaking generally about a host of different things.  She says “testing, accountability, choice,
    charters, all of those things” don’t work. 
    It seems to me that Mr. Sims is not calling Diane a liar, but is
    pointing out that she is speaking generally about a host of different reforms,
    which includes charters. 

    Ms. Ravitch clearly doesn’t know the specifics of any of the
    litany of things she brought up in Ohio. 
    Mr. Sims does—he knows about charter school performance in Ohio.  He simply points out that what Ms. Ravtich says
    generally about all those reforms across the country is not true with respect
    to charter schools in Ohio.   Pointing that out does not make Ms. Ravitch a
    liar.  It makes her an education
    professor and historian who works in New York and often comments on education
    from a national perspective—which is exactly what she is.

    On the other hand, your headline says something that is not
    true.  Your headline states that Mr. Sims
    called Ms. Ravitch a liar.  This is not
    true, as just explained.  And you made
    this statement with the intent to deceive. 
    Thus, the headline is both untrue and a lie because it misrepresents the
    truth with the intent to deceive.  As the
    person who wrote the headline, it makes you a liar. 

    Finally, the statement was published, and so it may be
    defamatory as well.  At the very least,
    it makes you an irresponsible journalist. 

    Perhaps now, you might want to look up the definition of libel.











  • Crystal

     There are 17 Constellation Schools. 1 is in academic watch (I believe this is the NEWEST one), 6 are in continuous improvement, 4 are Effective, 5 are Excellent and 1 is Excellent with Distinction. I believe the question was about the Cleveland area schools. CLEARLY, these schools are providing HIGH QUALITY options to students.  How can you argue against this?

  • claire

    hmmm, do magnet schools SELECT their population? Isn’t this the rant against charters???  geez.  talk about hypocrites.

  • Mlombardo4

    You just can’t comprehend the issue.  The graduation rate is based on a FOUR year rate – how many kids graduate in four years – straight through 9-12th grades, no breaks.  There is NO Possible way a dropout recovery school can be fairly compared on this indicator since the kids come to them ALREADY behind the four year curve. Funny, what if you added in all those dropout students to the district dropout rates?? which is what you would have to do if the dropout recovery schools didn’t recover them. Can you wrap your head around the fact that these schools HELP kids that cannot make it in the traditional model? Would you prefer they simply not get an education at all?   

  • Marianne Lombardo

     Ohio Schoolscope graphs on school performance are at
    You can clearly see performance on state assessments and performance index trends.  The data is from the Ohio Department of Education. The evidence is there.

  • Marianne Lombardo

     and district schools that don’t have tested grade levels don’t have these scores, either, thus are not having their performance evaluated, either.  You act like it is some conspiracy and it is not.

  • jim

     the question clearly asked for the 3-4 high performing cleveland area charters.

  • Jwizzler

    Because I did believe in charter schools. Unfortunately, teaching there proved to me how ineffective they were. There was organized, administrative cheating on state tests, a complete lack of administrative follow-through, a rotating door of teachers coming and going all year, and even worse things happening. This is what makes charter schools bad. Bill Sims loves them because he makes good money as a lobbyist for them while he doesn’t have to be accountable for the irreparable harm they cause to students. 

  • Jwizzler

     We must be reading completely different reports on the ODE website, Claire.

  • Sam

     See above…which explains the difference between something that is not true and something that is a lie.

  • Anonymous

    Not a conspiracy at all, merely our reality.  Given the measures in place by the state, there is no definitive evidence that charters are performing better than their public counterparts.  A public district is comprised of multiple schools, the vast majority of whom DO have the tested grades and are subsequently compared.  With the exemptions often given to charters to attempt to create innovative programs,  we find many more charters falling outside of the scope of tests.  

    This situation could be argued to either benefit or harm a charter school depending on one’s perspective.  A high-performing K-2 charter could make the case that they are not being given a fair opportunity to demonstrate their accomplishments through the state model.  Conversely, a low-performing K-2 charter could be accused of flying under the radar of being properly evaluated for closure.

  • Anonymous

    Lombardo – not so clearly, but your comment did cause me to track back through the thread(s).  I believe the question of 3-4 schools was a challenge to Anastasjoy’s earlier comment about always hearing the same 3-4 schools.  When sophia chimed in with a list of names, claiming they were all highly-rated, I intervened in order to correct her.

    There ARE charters with high test scores in Ohio, so why do people continue to use exaggeration to describe the performance of charters as a whole?  Why don’t the facts suffice when people from your organization, including Sims, are making public statements about the schools and there performance (or lack of)?  I continue to see comments that overstate the success of Ohio charter schools without seemingly admitting the major failures with the organization too.

    And if we get away from the mess of Cleveland into the other urbans and even ECOT (a gross misuse of the model and an insult to charters that are trying), then the comparisons of Big 8 district performance to the local charters grows further apart.  

  • Anonymous

    Where did that derogatory statement about “poor black kids can’t learn” come from?

  • Anonymous

    I completely favor providing high quality educational options for our children.  

    I’m also arguing in favor of factual information in the course of important policy discussions.

  • Anonymous

    Found it.  I used the’s legal definition.
    libel 1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others. Libel is the written or broadcast form of defamation, distinguished from slander which is oral defamation. It is a tort (civil wrong) making the person or entity (like a newspaper, magazine or political organization) open to a lawsuit for damages by the person who can prove the statement about him/her was a lie. Publication need only be to one person, but it must be a statement which claims to be fact, and is not clearly identified as an opinion. While it is sometimes said that the person making the libelous statement must have been intentional and malicious, actually it need only be obvious that the statement would do harm and is untrue. Proof of malice, however, does allow a party defamed to sue for “general damages” for damage to reputation, while an inadvertent libel limits the damages to actual harm (such as loss of business) called “special damages.” “Libel per se” involves statements so vicious that malice is assumed and does not require a proof of intent to get an award of general damages. Libel against the reputation of a person who has died will allow surviving members of the family to bring an action for damages. Most states provide for a party defamed by a periodical to demand a published retraction. If the correction is made, then there is no right to file a lawsuit. Governmental bodies are supposedly immune for actions for libel on the basis that there could be no intent by a non-personal entity, and further, public records are exempt from claims of libel. However, there is at least one known case in which there was a financial settlement as well as a published correction when a state government newsletter incorrectly stated that a dentist had been disciplined for illegal conduct. The rules covering libel against a “public figure” (particularly a political or governmental person) are special, based on U. S. Supreme Court decisions. The key is that to uphold the right to express opinions or fair comment on public figures, the libel must be malicious to constitute grounds for a lawsuit for damages. 

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